… i’ve been watching a lot of cookery shows recently. It’s the way I unwind. The Viking has his car shows (you know the one’s where they take an old car and make it over) he says it’s because he loves the mastery of it all even though he’s not really that into cars – the way he loves MasterChef the Professionals for their love of what they do but he’s not really into cooking. There’s a lot of thought goes into his viewing whereas I switch to what I know and pretty much zone out. I’m a bit old-fashioned and love a proper cookery show, with a chef, in a kitchen, making stuff. Of course Delia is my absolute favourite and even though her TV shows are a little retro now the cooking and recipes are classics. I’m not sure entirely what it is but there’s something very comforting about being in her kitchen, the sound of her voice, the slightly mumsy way she cooks things. Its like Sunday afternoons coming out of the TV set. Nigella I find extremely annoying. (I’m probably the only gay male food lover in the world that doesn’t simply adore her.) Don’t get me wrong. I think her recipes are excellent and when she actually eventually cooks (once the cameras have stopped fucking around with the soft focus and the clips of her walking into an impossibly swanky deli and showing us how she orders cheese) her food is delicious. I do wish she’d just get on with it though. I also love Keith Floyd and Rick Stein for the way they take you on a journey. Yes there’s a lot of non-cooking in their shows but at least its not them walking down a rainy London street for no reason at all… but I think my current favourite is Nigel Slater. It feels authentic and less preachy than many chefs. Plus he also seems like the kind of guy you’d quite like as a friend. I imagine Sunday lunches with Nigel are a rather relaxed and comforting affair…
mushroom and onion toad in the hole
this is one of my go-to comfort food recipes and when i’m feeling particularly lazy on a Sunday and can’t quite be bothered to make a full Sunday Lunch I will opt for a toad in the hole instead. It has the promise of the roast and pretty much delivers it too but with a lot less kitchen-handling. Of course the secret to a good toad in the hole is a good Yorkshire Pudding recipe and there are a lot of them out there. A lot. It seems nobody can decide on a definitive recipe but also different people use different dishes, different sausages and different egg sizes. I think i’ve found the definitive recipe for our household which of course includes vegetarian sausages but also has some beefy flat mushrooms, onion and garlic in there too. I’m using a large (20cm x 25cm) metal roasting tin and because I’m using veggie sausages i’m using olive oil and butter for my fat content, which is really important when making anything rise in the oven. My toad in the hole is nice and doughy, quite bready and crispy. if you prefer yours a little lighter, I would reduce the flour by 50g or so.
for the batter
- 150g self-raising flour
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 1/2 pint of whole milk
- salt and pepper
for the rest of the dish
- 8 vegetarian sausages – i’m using Quorn as they’re firm and hold their shape
- 2 large flat mushrooms – thickly sliced
- 1 large white onion – peeled and thickly sliced into wedges
- 5 cloves of garlic – unpeeled
- salt and pepper
- plenty of fresh rosemary
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 75g butter
pre-heat the oven to 180C
start by making the batter as it needs a little time to rest (whilst you make the rest of the dish)… sieve the flour into a bowl and break all three eggs into the flour. Using a whisk, start to gently beat the eggs onto the flour. It will start lumpy but as the flour incorporates it should begin the smooth out. It will become too thick to whisk at which point add a little milk and whisk again. Continue to add the milk and whisk until it’s the consistency of double cream – set aside
place the sausages, onion and garlic into your oven-proof dish, then drizzle over the oil, season and add the rosemary, then place into the oven for 20 minutes until it’s all beginning to turn golden. Open the oven and shimmy it all around, then add the butter and place it back into the oven until melted.
pour over the batter and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and risen
eat and of course, enjoy!